Category Archives: Home Inspections

What a Home Inspection Should Cover

Home inspections will vary depending on the type of property you are purchasing. A large historic home, for example, will require a more specialized inspection than a small condominium. However, the following are the basic elements that a home inspector will check. You can also use this list to help you evaluate properties you might purchase.

For more information, try the virtual home inspection at www.ASHI.org, the Web site of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

Structure: A home’s skeleton impacts how the property stands up to weather, gravity, and the earth. Structural components, including the foundation and the framing, should be inspected.

Exterior: The inspector should look at sidewalks, driveways, steps, windows, and doors. A home’s siding, trim, and surface drainage also are part of an exterior inspection.

  • Doors and windows
  • Siding (brick, stone, stucco, vinyl, wood, etc.)
  • Driveways/sidewalks
  • Attached porches, decks, and balconies

Roofing: A well-maintained roof protects you from rain, snow, and other forces of nature. Take note of the roof’s age, conditions of flashing, roof draining systems (pooling water), buckled shingles, loose gutters and downspouts, skylight, and chimneys.

Plumbing: Thoroughly examine the water supply and drainage systems, water heating equipment, and fuel storage systems. Drainage pumps and sump pumps also fall under this category. Poor water pressure, banging pipes, rust spots, or corrosion can indicate problems.

Electrical: Safe electrical wiring is essential. Look for the condition of service entrance wires, service panels, breakers and fuses, and disconnects. Also take note of the number of outlets in each room.

Heating: The home’s heating system, vent system, flues, and chimneys should be inspected. Look for age of water heater, whether the size is adequate for the house, speed of recovery, and energy rating.

Air Conditioning: Your inspector should describe your home cooling system, its energy source, and inspect the central and through-wall cooling equipment. Consider the age and energy rating of the system.

Interiors: An inspection of the inside of the home can reveal plumbing leaks, insect damage, rot, construction defects, and other issues. An inspector should take a close look at:

  • Walls, ceilings and floors
  • Steps, stairways, and railings
  • Countertops and cabinets
  • Garage doors and garage door systems

Ventilation/insulation: To prevent energy loss, check for adequate insulation and ventilation in the attic and in unfinished areas such as crawlspaces. Also look for proper, secured insulation in walls. Insulation should be appropriate for the climate. Excess moisture in the home can lead to mold and water damage.

Fireplaces: They’re charming, but they could be dangerous if not properly installed. Inspectors should examine the system, including the vent and flue, and describe solid fuel burning appliances.

Source: American Society of Home Inspectors

10 Tips for Real Estate Buyers

1. Find the right real estate agent
2. Get pre-approved for a mortgage
3. Create a “must have” list for the type of home and location
4. Be open to adjusting your “must have” list
5. Learn about the neighborhood once you identify a property
6. Always have a home inspected
7. Understand the process and the paperwork
8. Submit a reasonable offer
9. Don’t expect the seller to make too many improvements
10. Stick to your pre-determined budget

How Buyers Can Turn-off Sellers

Here are a few of the ways that buyers can annoy sellers:

Disrespectful house visitors: This could include going in with muddy shoes and tracking up the carpeting, allowing children to run loose and play with the seller’s stuff, changing the heat and air settings, leaving lights on; and worst of all, leaving a door unlocked.

Submitting a long list of defects: Doing this will leave the seller questioning; does the buyer really want this place? If your wanting to buy a particular house, the better approach might be to give the seller a hand written note accompanying your offer introducing yourself and explaining why you would like to buy their house.

Too many visits: After committing to purchase a house, some buyers will want to get access to the property for a number of reasons prior to closing. These could include measuring for window treatments, planning furniture placement and obtaining repair estimates to name a few. Many sellers find the constant visits disruptive because they are in the middle of packing and making their own plans during this period.

Renegotiation: Once a contract is signed and the price and terms are agreed upon, many buyers will come back before closing and want more concessions from the seller. Most often this is being driven by the results of a home inspection. A realistic buyer should know that everything is not going to be in perfect condition, so common sense needs to come into play at some point when dealing with repair or replacement demands.

Sources: Bankrate.com & REALTOR® Magazine

Should I Get a Home Inspection?

There are many good reasons why both a buyer and a seller should get a home inspection. The buyer wants to know if there are any problems with the property that might prevent them from purchasing it. The seller needs to find out if there are any issues that should be fixed prior to placing their home on the market.

Here are some of the more common problems discovered by home inspectors:

Roofing – Many roofs are found to be beyond there normal life expectancy. Most lenders require that a roof have at least three to five years of life remaining, so many times a new roof will be required in order to meet this standard. More minor issues could be popped nail heads or flashing issues around a chimney or in a valley.

Ceiling damage – Most ceiling damage is caused by water. Either rain water that’s leaked through the roof, or a plumbing leak. The source of the leak will need to be determined and fixed prior to repairing and/or painting the ceiling.

Electrical – The most dangerous problems discovered at home inspections can be attributed to electrical issues. Many of the problems found are overloaded circuits, connections not in junction boxes, improper grounding, and no GFI’s to name a few.

Drainage – Improper drainage around a house often leads to water intrusion into the basement area, which can cause wood rot, mold, mildew, fungi and the like.

Wood rot – This is caused by wood being exposed to water for extended periods of time. The wood will eventually loose its supporting strength, and it will need to be replaced.

Fireplaces – Many of the issues with fireplaces and chimneys have to do with firebox deterioration, damper doors not opening and closing properly, improper venting, and masonry cracks. 

Plumbing – The majority of the plumbing issues are usually fairly minor in nature. Many times it’s leaking faucets, toilets, and drain lines. Another common problem is too much water pressure, which is caused by a faulty pressure reducing valve.

Water heaters – Most water heater problems found are improper electrical connections, pop off valve lines not properly routed, and the water temperature set too high.

Mold & Radon – These can be two of the biggest deal killers. You’ll need to hire a professional to test for these items to determine if there is a problem. Once you have the results you can then decide if any action is needed, and what the costs would be to correct it.